We’ve all been there. We pour out our hearts, about a matter of great personal significance, to someone who appears willing to listen, only to hear, in response, some version of this line: “I’m sorry, but I believe you have mistaken me for someone who cares.”
Perhaps the response has never been that crass or that brazen, but we’ve all encountered folks who, we think, ought to share our concern or our fear or our commitment in a certain matter. Trouble is, they don’t, and the consequence, for us, can be disappointing, if not devastating.
It has taken years, but I finally understand the degree to which this principle has been at work in my own experience. I thought somebody would care. They didn’t. That was my mistake.
I thought folks would respect me for making difficult choices in order to act in a way that was consistent with my developing convictions, even when they didn’t share those convictions. Some did. Many did not.
I thought folks would appreciate the courage it took to follow a path that led out of my comfort zone and into a new area fraught with uncertainty and unfamiliarity, even if they would never have chosen that path for themselves. Some did. Many did not.
I thought that folks in the “new country” would recognize how much it cost me to forsake my previous “homeland” and emigrate to a land where I was new and untested but rich with experience and intangible resources from which my new compatriots could benefit. A few did. Most did not.
That was my mistake.
I never anticipated how difficult it would be to follow the leading of the Spirit. I never knew how much it would cost, how discouraged I would become, how lonely.
I should have known. Jesus told me. For example, this is what He said in Luke 14.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
And this, in Luke 9.
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I made my choices. I followed my convictions. I took the path, as Robert Frost wrote, which was “the one less traveled by.” But I wasn’t prepared for the consequences.
That was my mistake.
And now I am tired. And my shaky hand is about to let go of the plow.
Lord, have mercy.